23 July 2009

Buck Dancer's Choice

Russell Lee: Buck Dancers at a Square Dance, Pie Town, New Mexico, June 1940

From Richard Nevell's A Time to Dance: American Country Dancing (1977):

Buckdancing is the simplest and yet the most enigmatic kind of southern mountain dancing. Essentially, buckdancing is a dance for one but can be for more than one; the dance itself involves nothing more than moving your feet in time to the music... Make no mistake about it, it is not easy to buckdance.

Buckdancer's Choice

So I would hear out those lungs,
The air split into nine levels,
Some gift of tongues of the whistler

In the invalid’s bed: my mother,
Warbling all day to herself
The thousand variations of one song;

It is called Buckdancer’s Choice.
For years, they have all been dying
Out, the classic buck-and-wing men

Of traveling minstrel shows;
With them also an old woman
Was dying of breathless angina,

Yet still found breath enough
To whistle up in my head
A sight like a one-man band,

Freed black, with cymbals at heel,
An ex-slave who thrivingly danced
To the ring of his own clashing light

Through the thousand variations of one song
All day to my mother’s prone music,
The invalid’s warbler’s note,

While I crept close to the wall
Sock-footed, to hear the sounds alter,
Her tongue like a mockingbird’s break

Through stratum after stratum of a tone
Proclaiming what choices there are
For the last dancers of their kind,

For ill women and for all slaves
Of death, and children enchanted at walls
With a brass-beating glow underfoot,

Not dancing but nearly risen
Through barnlike, theatrelike houses
On the wings of the buck and wing.

--James Dickey

Or, it could mean a Thursday evening meal by yourself as the rain spills off the tiled roofs, and the garlic, parsley, and olive oil taste just right with the sautéed octopus and Alentejo white. Make no mistake about it, for the last dancers of their kind, it is not easy to buck dance.

17 July 2009

He's the One Lee (In Vinyl 2)

For good and bad reasons, Mark Mulcahy has been in the music news lately. I was inspired, then, to break out some his music. I started with his solo albums (CD only), Fathering and In Pursuit of Your Happiness, both beautiful and worth owning in their own right.

More attention was paid to the Miracle Legion, whose 1989's Me & Mr. Ray provided an acoustic, back to earth soundtrack to some seriously skewed post-High School, early college career blues. It's important to note that on the other side of the spectrum, the summer of 1989 also saw the self-titled first release of the Stone Roses. Ooomph.

The Miracle Legion: Me & Mr. Ray (1989)

I remember the first time I learned of the Miracle Legion. I was alone in an apartment in San Diego watching 120 Minutes on MTV. The person whose apartment I was sitting in was out and about with his newly-found University of San Diego fraternity brothers taking in a little pre-semester partying. I was left to my own and wondering why I bothered road tripping with him from our summer job residence in Lake Tahoe. I still don't know why. I know that after I made it out of California I talked to Eric only a few times more. Almost everything in my life changed after the summer of 1989. Most for the better, some, for a short while, worse.

I knew I had to get out of California and return to school. The prospect of returning back to Utah (state and county) seemed dismal but going back to Colorado was an impossibility. Nope, it was time to face the fact that several of my more notable relationships were in various states of deterioration. In a couple of very short weeks I would be totally alone. That night--on the floor, in the dark, watching MTV--I knew what was ahead of me. And that knowledge made the bittersweet "You're the One Lee" altogether essential.

08 July 2009

Snow Schmo, Pass the Pastis!

Summertime rolls. At home.

Swiss exotica:

Sardinhas mediterrâneas e fado:

Dias y flores and dreaming with snakes.

I lost myself on a cool damp night
Gave myself in that misty light
Was hypnotized by a strange delight
Under a lilac tree
I made wine from the lilac tree
Put my heart in its recipe
It makes me see what I want to see
And be what I want to be

So far so good.